Although not as common as seeing a café full of folks hunched over smartphones, hunting the same ground again and again for turkeys is trending—and problematic. Limited hunting access forces many of you to educate your bird resource by repeat visits to the same property, public or private. If that’s your M.O., then a change in game plans is a must.
Play a Different Tune Start with a new call, or three. Sure, you’re comfortable with that old slate your uncle gave you in 1997, but turkeys may be hearing that same pitch one too many times during spring hunts. Dust off an old call from your shelf, borrow a friend’s or visit a Bass Pro for some new calls. Try to be proficient with several types, including a diaphragm, slate and box call. Varying your pitch and turkey talk will make you sound like the new neighbor in the turkey world. And just like curious suburbanites, everyone wants to catch a glimpse of the new neighbor.
Change of Venue After you change your tune, change your calling venue. If you repeatedly announce your presence to the same flock from the same location, you will sound like your aunt’s annoying cuckoo clock in the den. This is where scouting plays a critical role. By understanding a flock’s pattern and terrain preferences you can play a new song to them from different locations on the property. Transition away from the roost, field edges and any places you’ve deemed as comfortable calling locations.
Move into dense cover, along neighboring fences or by the side of an interior woodland trail. Coordinate your change of venue to areas where turkeys travel, scratch or loaf to decrease flock suspicions.
Time Change A change of venue will cause you to change the time when you call to a flock. The time variance may be a few minutes or an hour or more. For an even bigger changeup in your game, consider swapping mornings for afternoon hunts if legal. If not legal, ditch the predawn setup, sleep in and talk turkey at midmorning.
Midmorning is an ideal time to pique the interest of a gobbler that may have just recently lost all his hens to nesting. As the day progresses, turkeys may not be as fired up as they were at sunrise, but it’s also not uncommon for a lonely gobbler to charge in with nonstop afternoon gobbling.
Ditch the Decoy Lastly, if the turkeys have seen your decoys and snubbed your plastic pals, ditch them. Utilize combinations of the previous tactics, but set up in dense cover rather than open fields or oak clearings. This forces a turkey to look for you, and if you’ve picked the right patch, the gobbler’s first full view of your ambush will place him in shotgun range.
For turkeys that routinely dash to an open field for asylum, it’s time for a full-frontal assault. Charge the field with a fan. In reality you’ll be crawling, but look for any small depressions to hunker in and raise your fan with slow turning motions to mimic a strutting tom. A hen decoy staked beside your dancing tail is oftentimes a game-ending ruse.
Hunting the same property again and again may seem like the kiss of death, but with some changeups you can bring a brand-new game to the flock on every visit.